One site I have used extensively in the past with some success is
http://www.Realtor.com, which I have found to have both good features
and not-so-good features.
You can search by combinations of City/State, MLS#/City/State, Zip
Code, and by selecting areas of the US map (it will keep prompting you
to click on smaller and smaller areas of the map). For your purposes,
I selected by Zip. On the next page, I then selected
Condo(s)/Townhome(s)/Coop(s) and unselected Single Family Home(s).
Scrolling down, I selected Select All Nearby ZIP codes, which gets
me 10701, 10703, 10704, 10705, 10706, 10708, and 10710 (Yonkers,
Bronkxville, and Hastings-on-Hudson).
This brings me to a preliminary page of listings, where I can narrow
down my criteria even further. I selected Approximate Price Range of
$350,000 to $500,000. Since you didnt specify, I didnt choose a
number for Minimum Number of Bedrooms or Minimum Number of Baths
in my experience, you are better off leaving those blank anyway,
unless you need to pare a huge list of properties down to a workable
size. I also left Minimum Square Footage of Home blank because I
know from experience that Realtors are notoriously unreliable about
filling in this field when they enter their listing, and if you put a
number in here, Realtor.com will ignore any properties that dont
specify a square footage. I choose Display Listings in Groups of 10
(personal preference; your other option is 5).
Scrolling down further, I selected Laundry Room under Interior
Features. Note that you are going to end up with units that have
laundry rooms in them as well as units that only have communal laundry
rooms, because some Realtors entering a new listing will check every
single box that is remotely applicable for their property so that it
will be included on as many buyer search result lists as possible. (A
unit with a small balcony often will have balcony, deck, and
patio checked by the Realtor.) Under Community Amenities, I
selected Security Features.
You should be aware that not all Realtors will check laundry room
and security features, and including these in your search may
exclude some properties that actually have those features. Your best
bet is to search your desired area only on property type
(townhouse/condo) and price range, unless that returns a list of
properties too humongous for you to review.
Finally, I clicked the Search button, and the engine brought up 14
properties for me to review. Because Realtor.com does not allow you to
search by specifying a lengthy list of specific zip codes, I cut and
pasted the URL from my browser window to Word, doctored it to include
all the zips for the areas you specified, and pasted it back in my
browser window. This time, I get 25 properties to review. (In this
case, omitting the laundry room and security features does not get me
any additional properties).
Now, I know very little about New York City, but after some extensive
online digging for a decent map showing zip code areas (and precious
little luck doing so), it looks to me like you may also want to add to
your search one or more of the following: 10503 (Ardsley on Hudson),
10522 (Dobbs Ferry), 10528 (Harrison), 10580 (Rye), 10804 (New
Rochelle and Wykagyl), and 10552 (Mount Vernon and Fleetwood).
Bear in mind that Realtors usually get access to new listings through
their special MLS (Multiple Listing Service) before the general public
can see them on Realtor.com, and that many properties remain listed on
Realtor.com for awhile after they actually go under contract (binding
Okay, Now For Something Completely Different
While there are both pros and cons to using the services of a Realtor
or Exclusive Buyer's Agent, you may want to consider doing this. These
people have much more extensive access to listings and detailed
information, and sooner, than the general public. They also typically
have extensive knowledge about which properties will appreciate and be
marketable if you need to sell your home in the future, any things
that may detract from your quality of life there (such as planned
construction on the nearby freeway you would use to get to work),
local employers, businesses, and attractions, and the quality of the
local school. They should be able to do a good job of asking you
questions to really hone in on what you do and don't want in a
property. And they should be able to save you a great deal of time and
effort by making all the phone calls for you, weeding out properties
that do not meet your needs, and not wasting your time on properties
that have already gone under contract.
FURTHERMORE, if you buy a home through the Realtor who is listing and
representing the property, THEY DO NOT HAVE YOUR BEST INTERESTS IN
MIND (more about this later). They will not tell you any of the things
that are wrong with the property, or any of the reasons why you
shouldnt buy it. And they will certainly try to get as high a price
from you as they can. This is why you should seriously consider
getting your own agent.
While using an agent to SELL a home will usually cost you 6% of the
purchase price, buyers typically do not have to pay ANY commission
since the buyer's agent receives half of the 6% of the seller's price.
The main things to remember are:
- You should get recommendations for agents from friends and coworkers
who have used them, then talk to the agents to see if they seem
competent, appear responsive to your needs, and their personality
"meshes" with yours (you're going to be spending a LOT of time with
them, and you need to be able to trust them and at least tolerate
their company.) Ask for names and phone numbers of recent clients whom
they have helped to purchase homes, then call these people to get
detailed information on how well they felt the agent performed.
- An agent will usually not show you For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
properties because FSBO sellers are doing it themselves to avoid
paying the commission and are not willing to pony up the 6% fee.
However, more and more FSBO sellers, realizing that agents won't bring
prospective buyers without some commission, are offering 3% to the to
the buyer's agent. Many agents are willing to make some accommodations
regarding FSBO properties. If the agent you are considering is not
willing to show you these properties, either find a different agent,
or make sure you add a phrase to your contract with them BEFORE
SIGNING IT that states they will only get commission on the home you
purchase if they were the person who referred it to you. (Otherwise,
believe it or not, they get the commission from you no matter how you
find the house you buy!!!)
- In most states, if your agent or their firm is representing the home
you want to buy, by law they are required to look after the best
interests of the SELLER only. This means that even if they know
negative things about the property, they are not allowed to inform you
of them. And they will do whatever it takes to get their seller the
best possible deal, even if you get shortchanged in the process.
Before signing a contract with your agent, add a sentence that states
that if the home you decide to purchase is represented by your agent
or their firm, you have the right to release your agent and obtain
different representation. This way you can ensure that your agent is
looking after ONLY your best interests. They may try to talk you out
of this, because in this sort of situation they can possibly get all
6% of the commission, rather than just 3%. If they refuse to let you
add this clause, find another agent.
- One sure way to avoid this conflict of an agent's interest is to use
an Exclusive Buyer's Agent. These people never represent sellers, only
buyers. However, you need to research prospective EBAs even more
carefully. Make sure your EBA has purchased a membership to the local
Realtors' MLS service; otherwise you might as well be looking for
properties for yourself.
I have had one really great experience with an EBA, and one really
horrible experience where I had to fire the EBA halfway through a
week-long house-hunting trip on which we had spent $1200 for airfare,
hotel and rental car. I have had 2 great experiences with Realtors. So
the main thing is to research and interview an agent and their
references thoroughly before signing ANYTHING.
(By the way, an agent may try to talk you into signing a contract for
6 months or -- the guy I had to fire tried this! -- a year. Never let
an agent talk you into a contract for longer than 3 months. If they
are unable to help you within that amount of time, chances are good
you need to try someone else. At the very least, they need to sit down
with you at that time and reevaluate their approach.)